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Smart Networking
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Homecoming 2007: Parents' Recap

Breaking News: Journalism Minor

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Graduation Tips

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May 2007

Headlines from the Hilltop

Smart Networking: How Students Can Benefit From Social Web Sites

Student on laptop between classesThe concept isn't new: "social networking" has been around forever. It’s the simple act of increasing the number of people you know by meeting your friends' friends, their friends' friends and their friends' friends' friends. What is new is the size of these networks and how people are tapping into them. Internet giants MySpace and Facebook attract thousands of new users every day. Just last year, MySpace made headlines for passing a milestone: 100 million users. That’s a lot of friends — and a good reason for parents and students to be savvy about privacy concerns.

Today, college students use social networking sites for a number
of reasons:

  • Advertise a party
  • Find a date
  • Share their views about books, music and politics

In doing so, they might unknowingly post too much personal information, such as pictures, phone numbers, addresses and
daily schedules.


Guidelines for Students

So, to help your son or daughter have positive online networking experiences, here are a few guidelines that will get your student thinking about the best ways to use these sites:

  1. Think About Image — Today and Tomorrow. What students post today could haunt them tomorrow. For example, many employers now “Google” prospective employees as part of their hiring practices. Pictures of a student engaged in questionable behavior are not likely to help him or her land that dream job. And, it’s quite possible that even the most passionately written blog might not reflect that individual’s views five years from now.

  2. Privacy Matters. Encourage your student to post general rather than specific information as a way to manage privacy. This might include omitting the year of his or her birthday or listing a city of residence rather than the full address. Being vague is always a safe bet.

  3. Understand Privacy Options. Does your son or daughter understand the available privacy settings and know how to change them? If not, encourage him or her to view the instructions provided by the social networking sites.

By following these simple strategies, your student can avoid the pitfalls of posting information online while leveraging the benefits, like staying connected friends and family and making new contacts, of social networking.


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